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Senate Commerce Committee Criticizes Huawei Equipment, Considers Impact of ‘Rip and Replace’

David Jelke



Screenshot of Sen. John Thune speaking at hearing about his concerns with Huawei

WASHINGTON, March 7, 2020— “It always comes back to trust in the supplier themselves,” said Mike Murphy, chief technology officer of Nokia’s American corporate entity, and a witness at the Senate Commerce Committee's Wednesday 5 hearing on “5G Supply Chain Security.”

Most of the hearing focused on allegations of security risks posed by Chinese telecommunications equipment giant Huawei.

James Lewis, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and another witness at the hearing, said: “If you don’t want any risk, don’t use Huawei. If you decide to use Huawei, you have to work hard to manage that risk.”

Sen. John Thune, R-N.D., unveiled legislation to “ensure the security of our communications infrastructure is a clear negotiating objective of U.S. trade policy.”

Senators revealed apparent feelings of deep concern regarding the threat posed by Huawei.

Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, referencing how Huawei is currently suing Verizon over patent infringement in American courts for $1 billion, asked, “Could Verizon go to a Beijing court and file a patent infringement suit against Huawei?”

He asked the question with his mouth open and eyebrow cocked.

Earlier, a representative from Swedish telecom giant Ericsson appeared to crumple under Sen. Cory Gardner’s, R-Colo., questioning about whether Chinese source code is incorporated into Ericsson products.

Jason Boswell, Ericson’s head of network product solutions, provided a trailing response until Gardner interjected, “So the answer is yes?”

“I would have to follow up specifically about that,” Boswell stated.

The senators also questioned panelists about current efforts to combat Huawei influence, such as the recent “rip and replace” order issued by the Federal Communications Commission. The other mandates that American carriers using Universal Service Funds rip out Huawei devices in their network and replace them by the end of the 2020.

“The undertaking to replace existing equipment is unprecedented, historic, and never been done,” said witness Steven Berry, CEO of the Competitive Carriers Association. “These carriers are essentially attempting to rebuild an airplane in mid-flight.”


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